Wednesday, 20 May 2009

High-Speed Internet Options

Technology being what it is these days, there is a wide range of internet options. Even in the elite category of high-speed internet, the selection can be overwhelming and it might seem like it takes a technology expert to make the right decision when choosing an internet provider. DSL should mean something to us, but in many cases it doesn't; cable modems seem like a necessity for the Comedy Channel, not the internet; and satellite broadband sounds like something recently tested by NASA. Many of us feel your pain. To that end, here is a simplified look at the wide world of high-speed internet and its three biggest players: Cable, DSL and Satellite Broadband.

First of all, high-speed or "broadband" internet is internet service which transfers information rapidly. If you've ever used dial-up internet, it is generally the step above dial-up. However, as technology has progressed over the past five years, the standard has risen along with it. Whereas broadband internet began by beating dial-up (i.e., anything greater than 56 kilobits per second), the latest accepted transmission standard for broadband is somewhere greater than 250 kbs/s and usually better than 750 kbs/s At these speeds, pictures and data can download almost instantly. The standard will likely continue to rise, but you should not settle for bandwidths below 750 or even 1000 kbs/s, also called 1 Mb. Think of it as the horsepower for your engine, or the miles per gallon for gas efficiency. It is your most important tool when shopping for an internet provider.

Just looking at the definition of high-speed or broadband internet, it is clear that dial-up is not an impressive option. DSL, on the other hand, is a feasible high-speed solution. An acronym for Digital Subscriber Line, DSL is commonly thought of as "Direct Service Line." While erroneous, it is actually mistaken with good reason, for DSL technology works with a telephone or "hard" line. Often compatible with an existing line, DSL internet uses a different frequency than your phone and typically supplies a strong bandwidth for information transfer. An obvious drawback: if the telephone line doesn't go there, DSL doesn't go there.

The same can be said for getting internet via cable. The internet will operate using the same technology that brought cable television into your home. When you hear the words cable modem tossed around, don't fret. A modem is just a box used to transmit signals: think of it as a cable box for your computer. High-speed internet using the cable system can range from good to excellent. The same rule applies: if the cable company does not service your area, you will not be able to get internet in this way.

Which leaves us at one of the key options for the rural or "off-the-grid" customer: satellite broadband. In the same way satellite tv has found its audience, satellite internet is available where no other credible options exist. Instead of a cable modem or a telephone line, your hardware will be a satellite dish. Installation will require pointing the dish without obstruction to achieve the best possible signal. Drawbacks include: trouble experienced during bad weather and a slightly higher price tag than cable or DSL. But left to choose between satellite internet and dial-up service, the decision is an easy one: go satellite and don't look back.

2 comments:

hennryswift said...

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James Kayden said...

Hi, it’s the first time that I visit your website. Nice info, thanks!
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